Authors: Sally Malcolm
Volume One of The Travelers’ Tales
Sally Malcolm (Editor)
An original publication of Fandemonium Ltd, produced under license from MGM Consumer Products.
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ISBN: 978-1-905586-67-7 Printed in the USA
This year marks Fandemonium Books’ tenth birthday. To celebrate, we’ve commissioned ten original Stargate short stories from ten fantastic authors.
We think there’s something in this anthology for everyone, with tales that capture all the adventure, humor and comradery that make STARGATE SG-1 and STARGATE ATLANTIS two of the most beloved sci-fi TV shows of all time.
The last ten years have been an amazing journey for Fandemonium Books, but we couldn’t have done it without our wonderful authors. Their talent and genuine passion for the shows, and for the characters we all love, have allowed us bring to life almost fifty new Stargate adventures in the past decade. We’re hugely grateful to them all.
But, most importantly, we couldn’t have done any of this without you, our readers. Thank you so much for your enthusiasm and loyalty, and for sharing with us your love of the Stargate universe. With your help, we’ll keep the gate open for another ten years of fun and adventure…
Draw Down the Moon
by Suzanne Wood
“It is not amusing, O’Neill.”
“Oh, c’mon, T. How can you not find that funny? One of the all-time best jokes. You gotta laugh.”
“I do not.”
Jack O’Neill heaved out an exasperated sigh. He looked around the empty stretch of beach and appealed to the rest of his team. “It’s
“Perhaps it’s your delivery, sir.”
Carter hopped off the mostly buried Stargate platform and picked her way over sand drifts to check on the DHD.
Daniel averted his eyes, but Jack could see a grin trying to sneak out.
“Daniel thinks it’s funny,” he said, a little too desperately.
“Actually, I was picturing you and Teal’c doing a stand-up routine. He’s the perfect straight man.”
Daniel scuttled off up the beach before he could offer any more opinions about his leader’s comic abilities. Wise move.
“Okay. Well, here we are.” Jack eyed the surf crashing onto the empty beach, the shining white sand that stretched for a couple of kilometers along a crescent bay. “Guess we’d better make our presence known, then.”
As planets went, this was one of the nicer ones. SG-1 had, for once, had a win when they drew P3X-228 in the mission rota. After a string of missions that had proved less than successful, if not downright death-defying, they had pulled this one. Three months earlier, they had spent an uneventful two days here in the sun, surf and sand. And weren’t Coburn and the other team leaders just a little bit envious when he’d told them, in intricate detail, about this island chain where the most dangerous thing SG-1 had encountered was mild sunburn and not being physically able to sample all the local cuisine. Jack fully intended to catch up this time on the dishes he’d missed.
The locals, a cheery bunch of humans led by a lady called Rosal, had invited them to return for some big ceremony; something to do with the moon. That, of course, had been shelved as unimportant to the SGC, until Coburn and his team, trading for information during another mission, had come up with the gem that the good folk of P3X-228 possessed some kind of protective shield on their planet. A return trip was bumped up the rota, and here they were. Privately, Jack didn’t believe they’d missed a shield on their first trip, but, hey, stranger things had happened. And they could certainly do with a little R&R.
Teal’c took point and headed along the beach. Jack ambled along in the rear. To their right, a tumble of rocks rose out of the sand. SG-1 skirted the pile of boulders that stood a couple of hundred meters high to form the backbone of this island. It was the first in the group of three islands and held the small settlement his team had originally visited.
Barely halfway along the beach, Teal’c raised his staff and pointed to a group of people who had rounded the furthest end of the rocks and were jogging toward them.
“Nice lookout system they’ve got.”
Jack searched the rocks but could not pick the spot that hid whomever had spied their arrival. Friendly folk or not, things like that made him jumpy.
The two groups came together rapidly; the islanders skipped and trotted along the sand, waving happily as they neared. Children darted in and out of the waves while the adults chatted and called out to their visitors. Bright, delicate sarong-like skirts fluttered on men and women alike. Jack felt over-dressed in his desert camo t-shirt and tac vest.
Jack recognized Rosal, the mature lady who was the local equivalent of a town mayor. Behind her were Piday and Honet who had given over their home to SG-1 on the previous visit.
“Rosal, ayehoy to you,” Daniel said. He got the pronunciation perfect, as Jack knew he would. “You recall Teal’c, Sam and Jack? We have returned for the moon festival.”
Rosal stepped forward and dispensed a floral-scented hug to each of them. “We are so pleased you have come to share our Triad festival. You honor our people and our blessed one. Welcome. Welcome.”
Daniel flashed a glance at Jack and turned back to Rosal. “We thought the festival marked the confluence of the moons.”
“It does, dear guest.” Rosal beamed at them. She ran her hands through her long sun-bleached hair, freeing strands and woven ribbons to flutter in the wind. “You are fortunate. This festival falls on the day of our blessed one, so there is to be a double celebration!”
“Blessed one?” Funny how such innocuous words could send a chill down a guy’s back. One of the reasons Jack had been happy to return was the lack of local deities.
Rosal laughed and beckoned them to follow along the beach.
“It is an old name from the times of our mother’s mothers,” she said. “The ancestors would lay out shells and dried fish in baskets made from the reeds that grow along the tidal river. They would leave them when the moon was full and she would bless the people with full bellies and true hearts.”
“And does the deity have a name?” Daniel strode alongside Rosal, their conversation floated clearly back to his team mates.
“Oh, she was known by many names — Lady of the Road, Birth Mother, Moon Witch — just about every family has a different name for her.”
Daniel’s expression lightened and he gave a surreptitious nod to Jack. He dropped back to pace alongside.
“Are we about to have a problem here?” Jack muttered.
“I don’t think so. It sounds more like local beliefs, passed down through the generations, than a Goa’uld imposing a belief system on them. We didn’t see anything here last time that made me suspect a Goa’uld presence.”
Jack grunted. “Keep your eyes and ears open, just in case.”
The beach trek turned inland along a path paved with slabs cut from the slate-like rocks, through sand dunes capped with grass and wind-stunted bushes. People were scattered all along the sand and up in the rocks; many waved and called out as the group passed. The roar of the surf diminished as they entered the settlement. A cluster of thirty houses hunkered amongst the rock formations, their wood and stone facades faced a wide spit of sand that had been submerged by the sea on the team’s previous visit. Now exposed, the spit ran for over two kilometers to the second island in the group. This island was a post-volcanic mountain, its steep sides blanketed in lush forests. Another tiny town lay in the folds of a valley. By design or chance it looked back toward the first settlement across the spit.
“Wow, this is quite a change from our last visit.”
Carter stood on top of a boulder to get a better view of the bustling roads. What had been two isolated islands were now joined by an exposed causeway. The sea had retreated a considerable distance under the convergent moons’ influence. People now moved freely from one town to the other.
“There is much rejoicing when the moon-way opens for us,” Rosal said. “Families are reunited, food and wares traded, tales are told. It is a good time. See there… ?” She pointed out a young couple heading for the causeway. They pulled a wooden cart loaded with furnishings. “Ellene and Jante have betrothed and leave to begin their joined lives on Second Island.”
“And what of those who live on that island?”
Teal’c indicated another island across a wide stretch of brilliant aqua-colored water. It was relatively flat and sported another small settlement that gazed from the closest shore back at its sisters.
“The Third Islanders must come to us in their
at all times, except for tonight and the next night.” Rosal’s teenage son, Curti, bounced up to them.
“And what makes these nights so special?” Jack found the young man’s excitement infectious.
“Moon Witch brings her two sisters together and draws back the sea. We are able to walk across to Third Island and bring their harvest to the other islands. We must be fast, though, because the Three Sisters will separate and let the water come between us again.”
“That would be the conjunction of the moons, sir.” Carter was scanning the afternoon sky. “Our own moon has been known to generate huge tidal events back on Earth.”
“We invite you all to join our people and celebrate,” Rosal said.
“Thank you, we are honored to share this time with you.” Daniel had his camera out, already capturing the bustle of folk around the houses and crossing the causeway.
“Carter, why don’t you and Daniel get to know the folks here? Teal’c, feel like taking a walk?”
Teal’c followed his glance to the causeway beyond. “I do, O’Neill. I find the sea air most invigorating.”
Curti plucked at Jack’s sleeve. “May I guide you, Colonel Jack? I know where the biggest sand claws can be found.”
“I like a man with a plan. Lead on.”
Daniel watched Jack and Teal’c follow the teenager down the road and on to the now exposed causeway.
Rosal excused herself and most of the locals had already returned to their work. The smell of baked food drifted from the houses. Baskets filled with woven blankets, finely made clothes, and other goods ready for trade were being assembled beneath a tall lamp post at the edge of what amounted to a village green.
“I need to look for those power signatures I picked up last time,” Sam said.
He was going to say, ‘Sure, where do you want to try?’ Instead he blurted, “Do you hear that, Sam?”
A weird soughing moan caught his attention. Then another, a key higher and longer held than the first. Curious, they couldn’t see the source of the noise. None of the locals paid it any notice, either.
“How about we go around the shoreline,” Sam said. “We spent most of the last visit climbing through the rocks and I didn’t find anything there.”
He let her lead the way down the main path toward the water. As he reached the lamp post and its accumulation of baggage, Daniel paused. Another path intersected theirs, the two paved in stone for a short distance reaching away from the lamp.
“Oh, no, well… a little. This is a crossroad — of sorts.”
“That happens when two paths meet.”
“Yes, but these have been paved and the edges are well kept.” He looked around at the shaggy coastal grass that grew all over, none of which had been cropped like that edging the paths. The rest of the pathways were beaten earth and followed the contours of the land.
Sam studied the crossing paths and the tall, stone lamp post in the center.
“Maybe. Or, sometimes a crossroad is just a crossroad.”
They moved on, turning away from the causeway Jack and Teal’c were embarking upon. The path they followed wound down to the sandy beach, noticeably narrower on this side of the island. The noise and chatter of the islanders quickly faded, replaced by the rustle of long grass lining sand dunes and the high, piercing cries of sea birds.
Sam tucked her hair under a boonie and chose a trail along the top of the dunes. Daniel looked edgily at the water, more than glad to keep a nice distance from it.
“All this water —” Sam waved her hand at the brilliant expanse between the islands. “Brings back memories.”
“Yeah, ones I’m still fuzzy on. Not that I’m not okay with that.” He still got flashes of drifting through the living water of the world connected to the Russian Stargate.
“You don’t want to know who or what that water was?” She slowed to walk next to him.
“I do, yes. It’s an incredible life form, but it’s the whole drowning/not drowning thing I’m having trouble with. We don’t know what happened to us after we were pulled from the sub.”
“I know. Wish we could go back.”
“One day. Maybe. When we can speak ‘water’.”
Sam laughed. “That will be another first for you.”
“I can wait.”
The curiosity that had made him push his hand into the sentient water was well and truly buried by a desire not to drown any time soon.
“Hey, Daniel. There’s that sound again.”
The unharmonious moan was coming from further up the shore. They jogged along the track for ten minutes, drawn on by the sound that teased their senses; one moment they were certain it was close by, the next it was faint and far away. A small headland drew them around a corner to a small inlet. Emerald-hued waves crashed onto a rocky shore. Here, the sound was much clearer and louder.
“Sounds like an organ… played really badly.”
Daniel frowned. He searched for the source of the sounds.
“There — what’s that?”
He hopped across rocks to a flat-topped boulder. Set in the top of the rock was an intricately worked metal grill. He knelt down for a better look. A blast of sound and warm salty air hit him in the face.
He reeled back, slid off the boulder and slithered to a stop several rocks down the beach.
Sam took his place on the flat-topped rock. Holding her hand over the grill, she smiled as a soft gush of air flowed out, accompanied by a low-toned musical note.
“I think I know what this is. Daniel, can you look down on the waterline — is there another grill like this one?”
He scrambled over the fall of rocks down to the line of waves lapping the shore. Sure enough, he quickly located another metal grill molded into the face of the rock. He dug behind it and discovered the rock was actually the mouth of a pipe tunneled under the rocks and presumably leading up to the vent where Sam stood. As Daniel watched, a wave rolled in, covered the grill and seconds later an oddly sweet moan emanated from the top.
“Huh. Well, they must be connected. What is it?”
“I think it’s a tide organ,” Sam called down. “The waves displace the air in the pipe, creating the sound. Just like an organ.”
Another wave reached the end of its journey and set off a rolling chorus of tunes all across the inlet.
Intrigued, Daniel splashed through the waves and foamy detritus, looking for more pipes. He found another as Sam located the corresponding outlet above him.
The tide was starting to come in now with greater vigor and soon the pipes produced a non-stop parping. Sound filled Daniel’s ears. As more pipes were brushed by the waves, the music melded together and began to sound harmonious. Entranced, he waved up to Sam. She waved back, then called down to him on the radio.
“Daniel, I’m picking up an energy reading. Could be that shield.”
“Can you locate it?”
“No. It’s fluctuating all over the place.”
“Think the tide organ is related to the shield?”
“Possibly… maybe… It’s gone. Completely dropped of the scale.”
By contrast, the tide organ was showing no sign of diminishing. As the incoming tide pushed up the beach, the odd song increased until all the pipes were in action.